Can You Measure Motivation?

By Katie Ash — February 28, 2008 1 min read
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This story, “Researchers Propose NAEP Look Beyond Academic Measures,” by Education Week‘s Kathleen Kennedy Manzo is about a new report written for the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College, Columbia University, which says that the National Assessment of Educational Progress should measure more than just basic academic skills. The report claims that the assessment should expand to include eight goals: “basic academic skills, critical thinking, social skills and work ethic, readiness for citizenship, physical and emotional health, appreciation of arts and literature, and preparation for work.”

There’s an interesting discussion forming in the comments, directly linked to student motivation. One commenter (New Teacher Network) says, “What really matters is the motivation, skills and aptitudes of young people going forward. Those are things that can be cultivated and measured and should be.” But another (The Principal) asks, “How in the world do you MEASURE motivation, citizenship, emotional health, social skills, work ethic, and other such subjective measures?”

I tend to agree that these factors should be measured in some way, but I’m not 100% convinced that it’s the responsibility of NAEP to do so. But perhaps it is--after all, NAEP has been dubbed “The Nation’s Report Card,” which implies that it looks at education as a whole. And, of course, student motivation plays a huge part in education.

What do you think? Should the assessments be expanded to include measures for things like student motivation? And if so, how should that be measured?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.